New research has found that fathers with a newborn are at risk of suffering from postpartum, or postnatal, depression (PPD). Usually, PPD is associated with mothers, but this study has shown that testosterone levels play a huge part and that if levels plummet, this can be a trigger.
The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, also proved that although the father may be going through postpartum depression, which is obviously not pleasant, the result of it can play a positive part on their partners. The research showed that women whose partners had lower levels of testosterone post-birth reported fewer symptoms of depression themselves 9-15 months after their baby was born.
“We tend to think of postpartum depression as a mum thing,” lead author Dr Darby Saxbe, from the University of Southern California, said in a statement. “It’s not. It’s a real condition that might be linked to hormones and biology.”
“We often think of motherhood as biologically driven because many mothers have biological connections to their babies through breastfeeding and pregnancy,” she added.
For most parents, having a baby is a heart-warming experience, so exactly why are one in 10 men experiencing this? Well, there are several factors, from a tough relationship with their partner, as well as age, and their financial status. According to NCT, new fathers who are on a low salary can be “vulnerable to depression”.
The research looked at 149 couples that included mothers between the ages of 18-40, who had all just given birth. The researchers made several visits during the following two years. After the nine-month visit, the dads were given saliva sample kits and had to take samples three times a day, to measure their testosterone levels.
They also had to answer questions about depressive symptoms, parenting stress, relationship satisfaction, and partner aggression. They found that fathers with higher testosterone levels reported more parenting stress, and their partners reported more relationship aggression.
“One take-away from this study is that supplementing is not a good idea for treating fathers with postpartum depression,” Dr Saxbe pointed out though. “Low testosterone during the postpartum period may be a normal and natural adaptation to parenthood.”
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